I am on Day 15, halfway through the Billy Graham Words of Wisdom Bible Reading Plan. On each day, I read 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb. According to the plan, reading Psalms will help your relationship with God. Reading Proverbs will help your understanding of other humans and your relationships to them. Today I read Psalms 71-75 and Proverbs 15. Tomorrow I read Psalms 76-80 and Proverbs 16 and you are welcome to read along with me.
Each day, I pick out words and phrases that really stand out to me in the short readings. These are those phrases and my thoughts, sorta stream of consciousness, on them.
Psalm 71 “Now also when I am old and grey-haired, O God, forsake me not.”
Ruth was a Moabite woman that had married a man who’s mother was named Naomi. Naomi was from Judah. During a famine, the husbands of both these women passed away. Widowed Ruth and widowed Naomi, her mother-in-law, could have become destitute.
But Ruth refused to give up and she was loyal to her mother-in-law. The women took care of each other. During the day, Ruth would go into the fields to pick what was left of the grain and such. It wasn’t much but it was enough for the two women to get by. Meanwhile, I imagine that Naomi in her own way was loyal to Ruth. She was older and grey-haired but I’m certain she found ways to help out as much as she could. The 2 women leaned on each other for support, neither one forsaking the other.
It’s a really great story of loyalty in the Bible and eventually Ruth was rewarded for her character with a new husband named Boaz who took care of both women. Ruth was a great-grandmother to King David and an ancestor to Jesus eventually. It’s one of the great love stories in the Bible, a story of love between Ruth and Boaz but also one of great love between 2 women that refused to give up on each other and did not forsake each other.
Psalm 71 “Thou, O God, shalt quicken me again.”
Quicken I believe means something like to inspire and motivate again an individual so that they can perform actions towards desired outcomes or goals. Reading these words on a daily basis sorta quickens my motivation to understand things around me better and to stop and really reflect on life.
How many times has a person been down and out and then another person came along to offer words of encouragement from the Bible or a special quote or a sentiment like, “I’ll keep you in my prayers.”
One of my favorite motivational quotes from the Bible is “No weapon formed shall prosper.” Or there is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If I want to have a good positive attitude, I tend to think of Philippians 4:8:
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
And when I am sad or going through trials, I always think of Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
And then there is John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
And finally, there is this verse from Psalm 23,
“Yeah, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.”
Or Psalm 139 –
“When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother’s womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there— you saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began.”
I don’t know why, but this last one comforts me a bit to think I was known before I was ever even born and my days and life were pre-destined under God’s control.
Psalm 72 “The mountains shall bring peace to the people.”
Years ago, we took an old RV roadtrip to Westcliffe, Colorado. We pulled into a fancy schmancy RV park with our old RV and kinda looked like Cousin Eddy and his family of kids had arrived. I mean we were from Kansas, technically.
I love Cousin Eddy, I really do. That’s my favorite character in National Lampoon’s.
Anyway, the next morning, my son and I go for a walk to the edge of the RV park and it is sunrise and we suddenly have this gorgeous, amazing view of the Rocky Mountains rising up to the sunrise sky. They were so beautiful.
If you ever get a chance to go to Colorado, look up Westcliffe. It’s a small little mountain town but absolutely beautiful.
Seeing majestic mountain views like that really takes your breath away for a moment and makes your soul feel good.
Psalm 72 “The Kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.”
Ok, ok, what the heck is this Seba place? I’ve heard of Sheba, as in the famous Queen of Sheba that I think married Solomon or something like that……but what is Seba? Is it some lesser kingdom, kinda like going to Oklahoma when you could go to Texas instead? I mean, Oklahoma is pretty cool…especially Turner Falls waterfalls or Tulsa and Woolaroc…..but it’s not Dallas.
Ok, one moment, I gotta look this up….Seba. Ok, so Seba was a kingdom of southern Arabia that occupied what is now known as Yemen. Oh man, I was waaay off. I kinda figured Seba was like Sudan or Algeria or something like that.
Psalm 73 “How are they brought into desolation as in a moment! They are utterly consumed by terrors!”
This passage is about what happens to the wicked. The author says that they receive a swift end every time and that usually it is preceded by an intense stricken emotion on their faces as they realize that the end is very near and what they may face in the afterlife.
You see that older movie with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore where they do the super hot pottery moment together? So, there is the ending in this movie where the bad villain guy literally gets dragged to death into hell presumably by these dark shadow entities.
I don’t know why, but the terror on that guy’s face, it reminds me of this reading.
Psalm 73 “It is good for me to draw near to God. I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.”
It’s good to spend time in prayer or reading the Word. It comforts the soul, if nothing else. Even if the prayers go unanswered for various reasons (cue the Garth Brooks song), just the practice of meditation and prayer and reading scriptures can calm the heartbeat down.
Psalm 74 “They have cast fire into thy sanctuary.”
This talks about the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. Once, years ago, a friend met me in Jerusalem on a Friday night. He said, “Follow me, I want to show you something special.” I was new to town and completely lost so I followed him here and there across the cobblestone paths of the Old City until it opened up to a big courtyard with white stone and all these people from every kind of background and ethnicity gathered there. It was the Western Wall of the temple. It was really neat to see. There were people there praying at the wall and putting little notes or messages in between the rocks. There were some pilgrims there that were so happy. Yeah, it was neat to see. I’ll always remember that gift he gave me to see that at sunset. Really cool.
Psalm 74 “Thou hast made summer and winter.”
The winters here in Vermont are not for the faint of heart. They really toughened me up and I thought coming from the Midwest I was tough already. Nah, not at all. Winter in Vermont lasts from late October to about mid-May really. It is a long season here.
You cannot go out on the lake really until Memorial Day weekend due to the cold waters and you would freeze if your kayak tipped over in the middle of Lake Willoughby.
But, summers here are the most incredible. The grass and flowers are this amazing shade of green and vibrant colors. I have never seen anything look so green and so beautiful except maybe Ireland.
Psalm 74 “O deliver not the soul of the turtledove until the multitude of the wicked.”
I believe in signs sometimes. Lately, we keep getting visited often by brown turtledoves in our yard. They sometimes fly up in pairs of 2 to the railing on the porch.
I believe they are a sign of love and affection. Turtledoves are really graceful, beautiful looking birds. I love them and Cardinals, Robins, and Bluejays. I do believe Cardinals are visible to you after a loved one has passed and “Cardinals are here when angels are near.”
Another thing to pay close attention to is owls and ravens or crows. An owl hooting is supposed to be a forewarning of a potential death in the family or among friends. A crow or raven is often associated with the Norse God Odin who is considered the AllFather. He is said to learn about the goings on of man through his messengers, the ravens and crows. Crows are very intelligent creatures and supposedly a certain number of caws from a crow or raven, can signal a specific message to the person who is aware. Also, crows and ravens are often seen around places where people pass away as they are said to help the spirits move on to the afterlife. You will often see them near hospitals or nursing homes.
Proverbs 15 “A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
This is a word of advice in Proverbs to as they say, “speak softly but carry a big stick.” Or to be slow to anger and to speak calmly (Keep calm and carry on) and peacefully as much as you can. You can catch more with honeyed words than with words of anger and harshness. That doesn’t mean to be false or fake but to be aware of your tone as others are reading your body language faster than even your words.
Proverbs 15 “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.”
I like this line. It’s good to remember. When our heart is full and glad, we don’t tend to have a grumpy expression. Things I have found over the years to make my heart happier: watching comedians do stand-up, going for walks in nature, listening to great pop music with a nice beat, going out with friends to a bistro or to just share a drink or small meal together.
Proverbs 15 “Better is a dinner with herbs where love is than a fatted calf where hatred is.”
Oh wow. This is so true. Once I had an amazing friend that loved to cook. This friend would make the most fabulous and yummy food but he’d get all worked up and frustrated and angry by cooking the fancy food. By the time we sat down to eat, he’d be in a foul mood and just kill the vibe altogether. I’d rather eat a simple salad than go through those dinners again, getting yelled at and such. No fun. The food wasn’t worth it.
As a parent, it’s important to remember this for your own children. Don’t subject them to all sorts of meanness and nasty behavior at the dinner table.
Proverbs 15 “The Lord will destroy the house of the proud but he will establish the boundary of the widow.”
God is a source of consolation and protection for the broken-hearted. That’s what I get from this passage here.
Proverbs 15 “Before honor is humility.”
This is the ending of Proverbs 15. It is just a small comment but a big message. Before a person can have fame and fortune, they must go through the humiliation and hardship of trying to find success. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been working solidly for nearly 5 years now on blogging, podcasting, on writing books, and on photography on the side plus the usual 9 to 5 and that can get exhausting plus you will have serious bouts of self-doubt, worry, and fear. Marketing these projects is really a bear and you have to put yourself out there and some people can be so rude. When I wrote books, I had a lot of supporters but then one or two comments about my “ego” and such really put a huge damper on my motivation and drive to succeed. Waiting 5 years for a significant ROI on all your endless endeavors and work can really feel at times like ………..ugh, you just want to throw in the towel. But I remind myself over and over of the Ray Bradbury quote that “You are never a failure until you quit trying.” This is to learn humility.
I was watching a major rapper on YouTube talk about his journey to success. He said he actually was in the industry for six or seven years solidly working and working and working before anything good happened for him. That rapper was 50 cent. Now look at him. A humbling beginning comes before the honor. This was a good thing to hear. A lot of folks think this success stuff is instantaneous for folks when it is not at all for many.